Kyoto - Higashiyama District

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January 24th 2021
Published: January 24th 2021
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18/1 Kyoto

Kyoto - Higashiyama District

Usually the virtual tours from the Far East are very early here in the U.K. e.g. 2 am but last night I was awake so joined the tour at midnight with Kentaro to enjoy the Higashiyama District of Kyoto.

What a delightful young man who was born and raised as a country boy in Fukushima who told us that his English was not taught to him at school but during a long trip he made hitchhiking through Canada & USA.

The Higashiyama District along the lower slopes of Kyoto’s eastern mountains is one of the city's best preserved historic districts. It was 9am on Sunday morning and very few people were about so it was a lovely meander through the narrow lanes with the wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops.

Vending machines are everywhere in Japan and here in the historic district was no different.

We wondered the reason for the small sloping fences alongside the houses, Ken explained they are to prevent dogs peeing up onto the wooden buildings. It’s surprising what you learn on these

Much more interesting was peering into the courtyard garden, if only we could have gone inside those beautiful gates.

We were able to enter a small temple - Yasaka Koshin-do. The temple known for its monkeys is dedicated to Shomen Kongo, who is said to relieve people of their sicknesses. At this temple, you get to write your wishes on colorful monkeys which you then hang from the temple buildings. The colorful monkeys make for a great background for photos, which is why people from all over the world come to this temple to take pictures in front of the monkeys.

We continued our walk with Ken giving information on difference between Shinto & Buddhism - Shinto is an animistic religion, meaning its practitioners believe that every living thing – and even inanimate objects like rocks – is animate and possesses a spirit. These are called kami and important ones are worshipped by humans. Buddhism isn’t a theistic religion at all; rather, humans who have achieved enlightenment, like the Buddha himself, are venerated.

A few locals were out walking and some ladies were wearing kimonos, this area is known
for the amount of kimonos worn in current times.

Another sign of current times was a Starbucks coffee house which is popular with visitors and locals alike, although I don’t think I have see a Starbucks quite like this one.

Our last stop was a small temple but unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of it.

It was reached by a small incline with wide steps leading to a magnificent wooden doorway.

Over 40 years ago on a business trip to Tokyo I was taken to Kyoto, but it was the main temple areas & I don’t remember any of these narrow lanes so it was definitely worth staying up late to enjoy another virtual trip.

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